We have been listening to the benefits of the metaverse for months, especially from those companies that want to do business with it, with special mention to Meta, the old Facebook. Those of Zuckerberg, in fact, have already presented several products in this regard. One of the first was Horizon Workrooms, a virtual reality platform for teleworking with which, thanks to Oculus glasses, meetings can be held or work on digital desks in the metaverse.
Now, however, a study comes to question some of these benefits precisely in the workplace. The research indicates that the metaverse to work is neither pleasant nor productive for employees, who feel more stressed and may suffer from migraines for being exposed to screens in an immersive and immersive way throughout their working day.
The study. To conduct the research, the authors selected a small group of 16 people, who were made to work for a full week, eight hours a day with a single 45-minute lunch break, in a virtual reality environment using Oculus headsets. Quest 2.
During those five days they were asked on several occasions to rate their experience compared to working in a physical environment using ten indicators, which included perceived productivity, well-being or stress, among others, and some questions related to virtual reality, such as whether they felt dizzy or their eyes hurt.
The results. Thanks to these indicators, the researchers found that the subjects perceived having more work in the metaverse than in reality, even though the tasks were the same, and they felt more anxiety and fatigue. In quantitative terms, the authors put the decrease in productivity at 14% and the increase in frustration at 40%. All of this led to a general decline in mental well-being.
Also, the participants experienced a significant increase in eyestrain, nausea and migraines as a result of being exposed to virtual reality for so long. Two of them even had to leave the experiment early due to severe headaches, dizziness and disorientation they experienced during the investigation.
software and hardware. The authors emphasize that they used both cheap devices and applications, such as the Oculus Quest 2, which costs around 350 euros, and software based on Chrome Remote Desktop, so they do not rule out that, with better tools, the results will be more positive. However, they stress that they did this on purpose, since they believe that most companies would not be able to spend big on the best equipment and applications to work with in the metaverse.
Limitations. The conclusions of this study are forceful, but it must be clear that its results are very limited because the experiment was carried out with a small group of people and for a short period of time. In fact, the authors emphasize that their intention was not to obtain definitive results, but to provide a starting point for future research that goes deeper and deeper into the consequences that work in the metaverse can have on professionals.
The study has been developed by researchers from the Universities of Applied Sciences of Coburg (Germany), Cambridge (United Kingdom) and Primorska (Slovenia), in collaboration with Microsoft Research.